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I asked this question:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2417108/is-hardware-impossible-to-debug-without-software

I CANNOT imagine why someone would want to close this. It has 5 upvotes and a bunch of answers. It is not subjective.

Sure, it is a question about hardware but it is from a software perspective. If you read the entire question you would see that my alternative to this question is to setup some software tests to test the hardware. How is this different from asking questions about users or software management? They are not specifically programming questions either.

In the trilogy of awesomes there is nowhere more appropriate to ask this question. As it is somewhat software related i think stackoverflow.com is a good fit.

Can I ask the users of meta their opinion?

UPDATE: I work on a completely custom stack. From hardware up to software. Therefore the problems we face on a day-to-day basis are intertwined. I appreciate that most programmers don't need to worry about hardware so much but some do.

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I work with investment bankers (when I'm working, anyway). Therefore the problems we face on a day-to-day basis are intertwined. Does this mean I should be able to ask about swaps or FX trading on SO. Nope. –  nb69307 Mar 11 '10 at 19:42
    
Sure you can. Lets say you're having difficulty modelling some particular rule or something that is related to FX trading. You can still ask that question in regards to the code your trying to create. You ask questions about how to map that domain into an object oriented design, if you provide enough background information about the domain. Likewise I can a question about software hardware. You'll find it's pretty telling when one of my answers suggest the answer is through writing software tests. –  Quibblesome Mar 11 '10 at 19:49
    
@Quibblesome Those questions are about PROGRAMMING, not banking - if I need to ask how a particular type of trade is structured, then I need to ask a trader, quant or whoever, not a programmer. –  nb69307 Mar 11 '10 at 19:52
    
Oh and my question is not about programming? I am asking about diagnosing issues with hardware. You can diagnose such issues using PROGRAMMING or .... oh wait sorry we can't discuss that because its not about programming. The work that we perform as programmers runs on hardware, it doesn't run on bankers or FX trades. –  Quibblesome Mar 11 '10 at 19:58
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@Quibblesome I have never, in any bank I have worked for, seen the actual hardware the software I wrote ran on. In fact I never knew where it was located, and didn't care. So programming can, and preferably should IMHO, be completely divorced from hardware. –  nb69307 Mar 11 '10 at 20:09
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OH I SEE. Yea i've lived there too, it's very, very nice to not have to worry about hardware. Problem is though that not all jobs are like that. We produce embedded hardware and software for the transport industry these devices are used all over the world. We have to deal with all sorts of weird issues due to this. As a software dev any problems arrive at my desk first (ish) so it is part of my job to identify issues that could be hardware related as they manifest themselves as "software bugs –  Quibblesome Mar 11 '10 at 20:10
    
@Qui - There it is, right in the title. "Can I complete this task WITHOUT software?" You are essentially asking a bunch of programmers, "Hey, if I left out your entire field of study, can this problem still be solved?" –  Adam Davis Mar 11 '10 at 20:42
    
Yea, I assumed that in the SO community there would be devs with hardware experience and I was right! :) Back to the point though, I figured if there are questions about requirements and software management then why not hardware? I've always looked as SO as a place where programmers ask questions in relation to their job. Others seem to think that SO is only about a very specific, narrow and potentially subjective bunch of topics. THIS is what i'm arguing about. It is AS programming related as requirements or management. –  Quibblesome Mar 11 '10 at 20:48
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@Quibblesome Some of us do feel that questions regarding requirements and management should be closed too, and do vote to close them (I do). But SO is a democracy of sorts, what is topical is decided by the majority of users with sufficient rep and interest to vote. And to me, that is its major strength. –  nb69307 Mar 11 '10 at 21:11
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4 Answers

This is close to programming related, but seems to lie slightly outside the proper bounds for the site. There are some clearly programming topics nearby (exercising all accessible states of the software, managing an instrumented feedback loop for automatically testing the hardware, how to program a full featured simulation of the device as built, etc..), but even then

  1. This isn't the place to ask about the instrumentation itself
  2. The scope of the problem may be too large for Stack Overflow
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  1. It's not programming related. It's debugging hardware related. Yes, software is potentially an aspect in that, but I'm not seeing anything, y'know, coding-like in there. Thus, I concur with Downvoter, it's rightfully closed.
  2. There's nowhere better in the Trilogy -- true, but that's why there's a whole slew of StackExchange sites. Not every question (not even every technical question!) belongs on the Trilogy.
  3. Does it matter? You have 5 answers, including one you've accepted. Obviously, you got the help you need. Closure just means that no one else can add answers to the post. People can still vote, comment and edit to their hearts' content.
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Yes of course it matters. I'd like the question to live a full and happy life. What concerns me is that we are basically creating some arbitrary fuzzy line between software and hardware here where the closing of such a question is MASSIVELY subjective. Where does the line stop? Can I discuss power management issues in regards to code? That's a hardware question. Can we discuss user requirements, management? None of these are to do with: programming per se. Fuzzy lines are nonsense. –  Quibblesome Mar 11 '10 at 19:24
    
The line is not fuzzy. Can you discuss power management issues in code? Yes, in that you can ask what the power management ramifications of code x are. Can you discuss user requirements or management? You're not supposed to; those are absolutely supposed to be closed as NPR. There are other sites for these things. Use them, know them, love them. Just as a video game or iPad question will be shut down on SU, this will be shut down on SO. Use the alternatives. –  John Rudy Mar 11 '10 at 19:27
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Wait, wait, wait. You're not supposed to ask about user requirements or software management? You think a rule like that for stackoverflow is a GOOD one? How many freaking stack exchange sites are we going to then need to answer all the questions that programmers need to ask to complete their jobs effectively? –  Quibblesome Mar 11 '10 at 19:32
    
+1 for concurring –  jmfsg Mar 11 '10 at 19:35
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Programmers also need to know about good desk ergonomics, proper eyestrain relief, how to manage people and expectations, (potentially) higher mathematics and algorithms (lucky me, I've not on that one yet), network infrastructure, general computing hardware and how to tie our shoes. Only two of those are covered, accurately, by the Trilogy. –  John Rudy Mar 11 '10 at 19:44
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tieyourshoesoverflow ftw! –  jmfsg Mar 11 '10 at 19:45
    
Performing your job effectively. That's what i'm asking about. That's what requirements and software management questions are also about. And everyone needs to know how to tie shoelaces, not only programmers. –  Quibblesome Mar 11 '10 at 19:56
    
In my mind, everyone should know how to dereference a pointer, too. –  John Rudy Mar 11 '10 at 19:57
    
Yes but I don't need to know how to dereference a pointer to be an effective Judge or Model do I? –  Quibblesome Mar 11 '10 at 20:01
    
That was an attempt at humor. Normally a good way to defuse an unwinnable argument. Obviously didn't work this time. –  John Rudy Mar 11 '10 at 20:06
    
Ah right, sorry. I'm just kinda pissed cause it feels to me that because there are more "server/desktop/pc" devs in the world than embedded engineers. I reckon this manifests itself in little empathy for the kind of issues embedded engineers have to deal with. Which manifests itself as NOT PROGRAMMING RELATED. :( –  Quibblesome Mar 11 '10 at 20:13
    
Understood, but yes, there are many orders of magnitude more desktop/server developers than embedded engineers. You may find a different community a better fit for embedded-specific questions. (Note that I'm not saying all questions, just ones which are going to, by definition, be more tailored to embedded development -- that's a very narrow focus that I'd argue most SO users aren't even qualified to ponder, much less answer.) –  John Rudy Mar 11 '10 at 20:18
    
Aye I agree, but SO is a nice community and i'd hoped it would be a bit more inclusive. It somewhat feels that "tyranny by majority" would force such questions out which I think is a shame... –  Quibblesome Mar 11 '10 at 20:27
    
I'd be more worried about the questions just getting buried by the deluge of C#/PHP/etc. questions. Hence a more focused community of peers. Out of curiosity, you work in the transportation industry? Don't imagine you work with Hyundai or Kardon? autos.stackexchange.com/questions/300/… –  John Rudy Mar 11 '10 at 20:36
    
Fair point, I did manage to get some answers though, which I really appreciated. Sorry I don't work with Hyandai or Kardon. I work more with specific transport authorities and public transport. –  Quibblesome Mar 11 '10 at 20:39
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I am an embedded systems engineer, and do both hardware and software design. Your question is not programming related for the simple fact that programmers cannot answer it. The correct audience would be hardware engineers.

Is hardware impossible to debug without software?

Is a hardware question for a hardware engineer. A software engineer cannot be expected to know this.

Am I living in a dream world?

Is a psychological, metaphysical, or philosophical question. A software engineer cannot be expected to know this.

A better forum for this is http://chiphacker.com - it's a stackexchange site catering to electrical engineering and microcontroller software, so you might get a better response there. Otherwise you can check out the Circuit Cellar forums, and there are countless forums for USB development in particular. If you post it to chiphacker I'll throw in my 10 cents, but you better explain what you mean by "kit" and "software" in terms of the hardware and tools used to test the hardware. Your question is not at all clear in terms of hardware testing.

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YAY. Thanks for the link. Massively appreciate it. –  Quibblesome Mar 11 '10 at 20:40
    
@Qui - Glad to help! –  Adam Davis Mar 11 '10 at 20:44
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Sure, it is a question about hardware

That's why

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and all software runs on hardware. I fail to see how we can discuss one without discussing (in part) the other. –  Quibblesome Mar 11 '10 at 19:20
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We are discussing programming, not software –  jmfsg Mar 11 '10 at 19:22
    
Requirements are not programming. –  Quibblesome Mar 11 '10 at 19:25
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-1 Kind of a snarky answer for a nicely worded and thoughtful question. –  Nick Mar 11 '10 at 19:30
    
@Nick, you shouldn't vote based on form –  jmfsg Mar 11 '10 at 19:34
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